The Myth Of The American Sleepover - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Myth Of The American Sleepover Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 20, 2011
Cast: Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer, Brett Jacobsen, Nikita Ramsey, Jade Ramsey, Annette DeNoyer, Wyatt McCallum, Amy Seimetz, Jean Louise O'Sullivan, Hali Lula Hudson, Melanie Leanne Miller

Director: David Robert Mitchell

Summary: Facing personal and interpersonal crossroads on the last night of summer vacation, four high school friends wander the streets of suburban Detroit, each taking the first tentative steps into the world of adulthood in this thought-provoking drama.

My Thoughts: "This was a hit and miss for me. Hits was the memories this film brings for all those times you had spending the night at friends houses and all the parties you would hit up in the summer. It also showcases the awkwardness between girls and boys when their trying to play it cool. Reminds us how silly we must have looked. Misses was all the bad acting. Also the lackness of what didn't happen. I mean for it to be the last weekend of the summer, there wasn't much happening at these sleepovers or the parties. Where was all the mishap these teens should have been getting into? I remember my sleepovers and parties and they certainly weren't as dull as these were. So although it brings the fondness of the past, it lacks to bring anything interesting to the table. It just lands on being ordinary."
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2012
The curiously titled Myth of an American Sleepover owes as much to American Graffiti as it does to the works of John Hughes. This sprawling teenage opus by debut writer/director David Robert Mitchell resonates with all the beautiful aches and joys of adolescence, wonderfully understated but brilliantly realized. I fell in love with this movie.

Set over the course of one night in suburban Michigan, a slew of teenagers try and make the waning summer days worth remembering. Claudia (Amanda Bauer) is the new girl in school and invited to the cool gal's (Shayla Curran) slumber party. She learns her boyfriend slept with the cool gal and plots a little boyfriend stealing of her own. Rob (Marlon Morton) is obsessed with a pretty blonde girl he once shared a look with in a supermarket. He is scouring the neighborhood, going from party to party, looking for her so he can reveal his true feelings. Scott (Brett Jacobson) is unsure of whether he wants to finish his final year of college, now the site of a painful breakup from his longtime girlfriend. One day while walking the halls of his former high school, he comes across a picture of him with twin sisters, Ady (Nikita Ramsey) and Anna Abbey (Jade Ramsey). He heads out to the University of Michigan, where the twins are enrolled, convinced he could win one, or both, of them over. Maggie (Claire Sloma) is navigating between the middle school sleepovers of her peers and the world of the cooler upperclassmen. She's been nursing a crush on an older boy (Douglas Diedrich) who worked at the community pool all summer, and will find the courage to make a move.

Unlike other coming-of-age entries, this is a movie that forgoes scatological comic setups and other Big Events meant to mark the passing into adulthood, like the loss of virginity, college admittance, or the prom; instead, Sleepover tackles a subject much more honestly and with tremendous naturalism. The level of detail is outstanding; set in what seems like the late 80s or early 90s, I was astounded at all the nostalgic artifacts of adolescence brought back to life. I kept going, "Oh yeah, I forgot about those," or, "That's totally something that me and my friends did." I loved that the movie shows different social spheres and age ranges, so we to go along with the late teen house party we also get see a middle school/junior high sleepover that involves girls staying up late, talking about boys, and eating large bowls of chips. Obviously not everyone will have this reaction, but it just shows the commitment to recreating a very specific time, place, and sense of being. These feel entirely like real teenagers, and their troubles and desires are achingly articulated. You feel the powerful sense of yearning throughout, where the nudge of a knee, the closing distance between two hands that can cause your insides to fill up with a thousand butterflies. Sleepover is about teenagers grappling with emotional connection and personal identity, but it never drags out a soapbox or breaks from its verisimilitude. Every single character in this movie, even the ones meant to be seen in a questionable light, is deeply empathetic. Being an ensemble, you'll gravitate to different characters and their pursuits, but the movie balances a nice mixture of storylines, cutting back and forth to build a graceful picture of the uncertainty of adolescence.

I found this movie to be so charming, so overwhelmingly affecting, and poignant without slipping into mock sentimentality, which would have been easy. It's been a big year for nostalgia, but nostalgia is the "least authentic of all feelings," according to Enrique de Heriz. It's easy to sit back and say, "Oh I remember that too," and feel the tingle of some wistful pull from the past, the yearning for a bygone time and place that has magically transformed in your mind into some idyllic spree. Does anyone remember those times, before there was an Internet, and cell phones, and social media, when you got together with your friends to witness the shared experience of a movie with female nudity (this might just be a guy thing), or when you didn't know if you'd see your crush ever again? The Myth of the American Sleepover does, and so do I. In the words of Lou Reed: "I don't like nostalgia unless it's mine."

Indeed, it seems like the film exists in a bit of a cultural time warp, where sleepovers were the social apex and holding hands and making out were considered victories worth celebrating. There are no computers or cell phones, thank God. If you excuse the casual and extensive teenage drinking, Sleepover is a rather wholesome film. I was wary that some storyline might take an unexpected dark turn, especially with all the alcohol and hormones, but the movie maintains its sweet appeal without fail. While ostensibly existing in a late 80s/early 90s, I believe this movie is timeless and can be felt effortlessly by people of any age. The pains of adolescence and the anxiety of growing up, not to mention the peculiarities of the other sex, are universal. There is a superb scene where Rob and the girl who secretly likes him pass each other accompanied by friends. We get both sides of the story cut together; he tells his bud that one night he kissed her and then they made out. "It was a pretty good day," he admits. She says she spent all night trying to get her to fold her hand and then just gave up. We instantly know that her side of this tale is far more accurate, but then this small exchange tells us even more about Rob, his fumbling attempt to be seen as cool with girls. Later, this same girl gives Rob a pep talk about unrequited crushes; she wonders if a person thinks hard enough about an individual, if they'll know. Like most men, Rob misses her real meaning, but I'm happy to say that this story is tied up in such a sweet manner that I got choked up. The emotions of Sleepover are genuine and genuinely felt, no big overtures or outbursts, but the quiet moments of realizing who you are, who you like, and what you are and aren't willing to compromise, it all feels utterly real and relatable.

The one storyline that seems to stand out amongst the rest of the panoply of sleepovers is that of Scott. He's a college junior and at least three years outside the social realms of the majority of the other characters. You can't help but feel at the start that he doesn't belong and his presence, in a movie primarily about 14-15-year-olds, might feel a tad icky. Scott's misguided attempt to get over his ex-girlfriend seems like some strange leftover plot from a sitcom. The fact that he's trying to drown his sorrows in twin sisters almost seems skeevy. However, he comes clean early, and opens up to reveal startling vulnerability, thanking the twins for a memory that would be incidental to them but has meant so much to him. It is this memory that gave him hope. The twins reveal that one of them had a huge crush on Scott back in high school, wishing he would one day reciprocate. But they won't tell him who. He has to guess. The fact that this setup is actually a push toward personal growth and maturation is a great revelation and a relief.

The cast of unknowns may be low when it comes to star-wattage but they lend the film another degree of authenticity. I wouldn't say a single participant in this movie is a bad actor, though their characters are often understated, which under the wrong guidance can lead to blandness. None of these characters are exceptionally verbose or opinionated, which leaves the impression that they are thinly drawn. However, the characters coexist within the impressionistic nature of the film; it's like a coming-of-age movie with the tone poem ambitions of Terrence Mallick. They are not as memorable or as sharp as the characters from Dazed and Confused and American Graffiti (Rob's persuit of his blonde dream girl, and his several near-misses, screams Graffiti homage), but the goal is a disarmingly sweet authenticity, allowing the viewer to discover relatable moments throughout the ensemble. I will say that Sloma imparts the biggest impression as the pieced, platinum pixie-gal feeling out the level of interest in her crush. I think we'll be seeing more of Bauer and her cherubic, Scarlet Johansson-etched features as well.

The Myth of the American Sleepover is a sincere, observant, insightful, gentle, and overall wonderful little movie, brimming with life and the rocky experiences of growing up, but mostly it will make your heart sing. The details and small gestures feel completely believable; building an ode to youth that feels earnest without being sentimental and knowing without feeling like a know-it-all. There wasn't a moment in this movie that didn't leave me smiling, chuckling to myself, and feeling immersed in this innocent, heartfelt, exuberantly youthful world. The pleasures of Sleepover are small but numerous, and I don't mind admitting to tearing up at several points, shaking in anticipation, and celebrating the personal triumphs of the cast of characters. The Myth of the American Sleepover made me feel like a teenager all over again, nervous, anxious, excited, and beguiled by the imprecise negotiations into adulthood. I'm sure some people will find this movie boring or too embryonic, a coming-of-age tale crystallized in dewy emo-earnestness. For me, I fell in love with this movie. It filled me with joy. I know it will do the same for others; Sleepover just needs a little tenderness and an open heart. The movie and its homespun magic will do the rest.

Nate's Grade: A
Super Reviewer
December 19, 2011
There are hints of good things - a good performance here, a great use of music there, some good direction and some dialogue that rings true. However, most of this is overshadowed. In a movie that simply tries to illustrate a realistic night in the lives of teenagers (much like Dazed and Confused), the characters only feel real about half of the time. Even then, they are real in all the wrong ways - what we are given is a story in which nobody seems to learn lessons, and things simply happen to them. As a result, its impossible to think of a single thing I even took away from it. The biggest offender is that the supposedly authentic film is horrendously anachronistic - not one computer, cell phone or modern television set in a film that takes place in the homes of current day teenagers? The title doesn't lie, I suppose - this movie truly does seem to take place in a mythical world.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2011
I remember feeling this way as a teenager. You go to parties, hang out with people, and expect something profound to happen but it never does. Even the few really good moments feel abbreviated and uncertain. The characters here are not necessarily the types I hung around with in high school, but I always suspected that while they got drunk and made out with each other they had the same listless attitude as everyone else. Its an effective film about the boredom and longing of youth.
½ April 11, 2015
#americansleepover shares some keen insight into the mind of the American teen, and with plenty of well-written moments, it justifies its run time.
July 24, 2012
Silly, cute, and super fun: I really, really enjoyed this movie. The characters were mostly real, aside from being so friggin' CHILL all the time. They frequently did the things I was heckling/cheering them on to do, which was special in that it was so unexpected. I highly recommend.
January 5, 2012
This movie will inspire thoughts of your past in a time a little more innocent; back went you rode your bike to a party. I loved the influence of american grafitti. This is more similar to what I experianced rather than a movie like "kids" which I also liked for different reasons. It is on netflix streaming.
½ December 14, 2011
A sweet romanticized imagining of suburban teen angst, that for the most part works. It reminds you of those awkward moments during your teens where you are too young to be an adult and too old to be a kid, and you're just trying to figure out who you are. Manages to be enjoyable without being condescending.
½ July 31, 2015
A really interesting and real movie about the teenage life. More and more you see these coming of age movies with their popy soundtracks blasting in the background or a bunch of stereotypes written from the point of view of adults but here non of these characters feel like stereotypes. They are all real teenagers I knew growing up. Though it holds off on some things, this movie takes a lot of great chances and I applaud them for it. David Robert Mitchell is definitely a director on the rise with his wonderful horror hit It Follows earlier this year and with both of these films, it shows that he really knows how to A. Discover great young talent and B. Find realistic performances out of these teens. From the conversations they have to the actions they do, he isn't for stereotypes and I love that about him. It is a little slow at times and a little too quiet but it does capture the eeriness of suburban summer nights. Really great indie gem that I hope more filmmakers will make in the future
June 3, 2015
This movie shows the adolescent years of these 4 people.They are just in search for love or just maybe kisses.Everyone just wants to sleep with the next attractive person they see.Acting is not that great,characters are sometimes dull,you just don't connect with anything in this movie.I would not recommend this.
½ May 31, 2015
This reminded me so much of Dazed and Confused, and American Graffiti. Such coming-of-age films are rare, probably once a decade. This is it!
May 22, 2015
Moody. That's what teenage feels like, right?
May 15, 2015
A huge young ensemble cast give uneven performances in a rather slowly-filmed story.
December 11, 2014
As someone who generally appreciates small stories of human connection and can handle a fair share of mumblecore quaintness, this film is just flat out, flat. Maybe I just don't personally relate to these characters, but I have seldom spent time with such a boring batch of straight faced mumblers. The thing that struck me as most dubious about this film was that the portrayal of these young people felt completely inauthentic. No young person I have met, (or at least VERY few) are as dry, and devoid of emotion outside of whimpering quiet sadness and loneliness than the characters portrayed in this film. I do not remember the names of any of them, and they had almost no character traits other than a clear desire to be loved and accepted. Adolescence is a time of a emotional irrationality and acting out, yet almost all of the characters in this movie act like depressed middle age people in their humble pursuit of pathetic nothingness. Also, unless things are wildly different in the area that this film takes place, the activities that these teenagers involve themselves in seem strangely dated, as if your grandfather was talking about what he used to get up to with his friends. A fucking make out maze? extreme cases of third wheeling, kisses so mechanical and forced that they might as well be under a mistletoe, etc.. This film comes off like some distant, vague, completely impressionistic and unrealistic memory of a childhood that is distorted by the current depression of the old man telling a story. I did not find this sad, uplifting, funny, engaging, or really anything. I sat there for 90 minutes as a massive wave of curious indifference washed over me. I also found the dialogue to be very questionable at times, as well as the acting; especially by the twins (again, I remember no names). I apologize if I am wrong about the authenticity of these characters relative to the area and culture, but I got a strong vibe of bullshit from this movie. Not only did this massively disappoint me considering that I am a huge fan of coming of age films such as Dazed and Confused, or more recent films such as The Spectacular Now or Boyhood, but it severely dampened my interest in this director's work. The Myth Of The American Sleepover feels hollow, unspeakably boring, inauthentic and nearly condescending in it's oh so sweet, subtle sentimentality. I only gave it two stars based on the fact that I was half asleep when i watched it and may have missed something, unfortunately I don't think there's nearly enough here to justify revisiting it.
½ May 16, 2014
Natural and beautiful.
January 30, 2014
I want to see this.. where can I find it?
½ November 15, 2013
Mom: This is better than Fox Movies
Me: Uh.....
½ August 4, 2013
No idea why it took me so long to see it, but, I absolutely loved it.
May 16, 2013
how i can to see the movie
½ January 23, 2013
Generic, seen-it-all-before American High school film. Some nice naturalistic performances from the cast, but ultimastely it's quite disappointing in its lack of storyline.
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